Program Offers Free Skiing for Michigan 4th Graders

SkiingWinter too often result in kids staying indoors, watching television.

To help get children active, the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) is giving fourth graders the opportunity to get three free lift tickets to 20 participating Michigan ski areas.

I encourage Southwest Michigan families to take advantage of this chance to introduce young kids to new activities and experiences or just to have fun in our great outdoors.

The Fourth Grade Ski & Ride Passport is part of MSIA’s “Cold is Cool” program, which is dedicated to improving the health of the children in the state by offering winter outdoor activities for all Michigan kids and their families.

In order for fourth graders to use the free lift or trail pass coupons, a paying adult must accompany them.

Up to two fourth graders can ski free with each paying adult. Although the skiing is free, MSIA charges a $15 printing and shipping fee for each passport ordered.

Applications for the passport have been sent to all Michigan elementary schools. Parents and children can also pick up the applications at participating MSIA ski shops or by visiting the group’s website at http://www.goskimichigan.com.

On the website, families will find valuable information on other money-saving programs, ski equipment and Michigan lodging. One link offers updated information on ski and snow conditions at Michigan resorts, as well as details on amenities.

Even if you are unable to participate in the program, I encourage you to consider getting out and enjoying Michigan skiing.

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Legislation to Help Keep Beaches, Lakes Cleaner

Niles Daily Star

Lakeshore property owners will have more freedom to properly maintain their beaches under legislation expected to be signed soon by the governor, said Sen. John Proos.

“Southwest Michigan is blessed with miles of beautiful sandy beaches that attract millions of visitors and are key to a tourist industry that supports thousands of families and local small businesses,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Removing costly government interference – that only inhibits the maintenance of our beaches – is a victory for everyone. It will enhance private property rights and result in beaches that are cleaner and safer for families and tourists to enjoy.”

Low water levels in 1999 exposed many Great Lakes beaches, which were quickly overrun with invasive plants and other weeds. State policy at the time was to prevent landowners from grooming their beaches to remove plants or prevent them from growing without a permit.

Senate Bill 1052 would eliminate certain Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) restrictions about how beach maintenance can be done. Property owners with sandy beaches would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities, although some activities may still be subject to federal regulation.

“Allowing landowners to maintain their beaches will help increase outdoor activities and protect a vibrant tourism industry,” Proos said. “I supported this common-sense reform because it also achieves a balance between recreation and conservation. Eliminating unnecessary restrictions on property owners will enable them to keep their beaches sandy and open for use while enlisting their aid in stopping invasive species from taking hold in Michigan.”

Under SB 1052, owners of sandy beaches would not need a DEQ permit to remove vegetation and debris on the section of their beaches between the normal high-water mark and the water’s edge. Construction projects and digging of channels or dredging below the ordinary high-water mark would still be subject to a state permit.

“This will not affect a beachgoer’s ability to walk along the beach between the high-water line and the water’s edge,” Proos said. “In fact, it will improve that freedom by allowing landowners to maintain and clean that area of the beach.”

Pure Michigan = $1 Billion in Tourism

A record number of out-of-state visitors were attracted to the state in 2011 as a result of last summer’s Pure Michigan campaign.

According to the state tourism group Travel Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the summer promotion generated 3.2 million trips to Michigan and visitors spent $1 billion at local businesses, paying $70 million in taxes.

The successful, award-winning tourism promotion program has had a direct, measurable effect on boosting tourism in Southwest Michigan.

John Marple, who owns the Old Harbor Inn in South Haven said: “The ads have given my business a boost and have done the same for many hotel owners across the state. Right now, we are gearing up for another season of growth at the inn.”

In addition to supporting our state’s tourism industry and the thousands of Michigan job providers and families who depend on tourism, the program is helping the state budget. For every dollar we invested in Pure Michigan last summer, the state got back almost five dollars in revenue.

The 2011 summer campaign cost $14.3 million and brought back $4.90 in taxes for each dollar spent. The state also recently announced a new advertising partnership with Coca- Cola. Under the partnership, idyllic Michigan scenery will cover Coca-Cola trucks and vending machines at no cost to the state.

I strongly support the Pure Michigan program because it accomplishes three goals at once: helping keep and create jobs, generating more state revenues and improving Michigan’s national image to entrepreneurs considering locating in our state.

The campaign is a productive investment, and I hope its success continues in Southwest Michigan.

Explore Michigan Outdoors with Free DNR Mobile App

Southwest Michigan families have an additional tool to use when planning their outdoor activities this year: the “MI Camping and Recreation Locator” mobile application.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) app makes it easier for residents and out-of-state visitors to get out and enjoy our state’s wonderful natural resources.

I encourage outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of this app to locate information about our state parks, forest campgrounds, boat launches and other state outdoor activities. It is easy to use and free of charge.

The app allows users to search for state parks, forest campgrounds and boat launches by region, city or proximity. Features include camping, lodging and boating information; maps showing the location of each state park, forest campground and boat launch; distance between you and each recreational opportunity; and touch-to-call phone numbers to easily contact the facilities.

State park and forest information like the size and description of the park, park rules and activities you can find there; and information about boat launches like name and size of a lake, river or pond; facts about the ramp; and number of parking spaces, are all available through the app.

This convenient resource will help residents and tourists to find the best place for them and their families to camp, hike, boat and swim—many of which are right here in Southwest Michigan.

Michigan’s great outdoors offers a variety of activities, and this app will help ensure that everyone has a fun and enjoyable time.

To learn more about the app, go to: http://www.michigan.gov/CampAndRecLocator.

The site includes links for downloading the app.

Pure Michigan Campaign Produced Results

Niles Daily Star

April 13, 2012

New studies show that last summer’s Pure Michigan campaign helped bring in a record number of out-of-state visitors in 2011, said Sen. John Proos.

“Pure Michigan is a successful, award-winning tourism promotion program that has had a direct, measurable effect on boosting tourism in Southwest Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “In addition to supporting our state’s tourism industry and the thousands of Michigan job providers and families who depend on it, the program is helping the state budget. For every dollar we invested in Pure Michigan last summer, the state got back almost five dollars in revenue.”

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the state tourism group Travel Michigan, the summer promotion generated 3.2 million trips to Michigan and visitors spent $1 billion at Michigan businesses, paying $70 million in taxes

“The Pure Michigan campaign has helped get the word out to people all over Michigan and beyond that there is much to do and see in Southwest Michigan,” said John Marple, owner of the Old Harbor Inn in South Haven. “The ads have given my business a boost and have done the same for many hotel owners across the state. Right now, we are gearing up for another season of growth at the inn.”

The 2011 summer campaign cost $14.3 million and brought back $4.90 in taxes for each dollar spent. The state also recently announced a new advertising partnership with Coca-Cola. Under the partnership, idyllic Michigan scenery will cover Coca-Cola trucks and vending machines at no cost to the state.

“The Pure Michigan promotion is a productive investment, and I hope its success continues in Southwest Michigan,” Proos said. “I strongly support this campaign because it accomplishes three goals at once: helping keep and create jobs, generating more state revenues and improving Michigan’s national image to entrepreneurs considering locating in our state.”

Mentored Youth Hunting Licenses are Now Available

Hunting and fishing are great Michigan pastimes that help families bond while also fostering a passion for the outdoors in our children and teaching them the importance of preserving and respecting our natural resources.

The Mentored Youth Hunting program is designed to introduce youth under the age of 10 to hunting and fishing, and licenses are now available for the 2012 season.

Under the program, a package license for hunters less than 10 years old cost $7.50 and allow the youth to hunt turkey (spring and fall), deer and small game; trap furbearers; and fish for all species.

I supported creating this program because introducing youths to outdoor activities under the guidance of a mentor offers a unique learning experience. It will help children learn proper safety and ethics and also develop teamwork skills and self-confidence.

Youths must be accompanied by a mentor who must be at least 21 years old, have previous hunting experience and possess a current Michigan hunting license.

There is no limit on the number of children a mentor can have with him or her, but the mentor is responsible for the actions of the youth hunter in the field at all times.

For more information on the Mentored Youth Hunting program, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s website at: http://www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting.

I encourage local hunters and families to take advantage of this youth mentorship opportunity and safely share Michigan’s great traditions with the next generation of Southwest Michigan outdoor enthusiasts.

Federal Inaction Puts Great Lakes at Risk

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling and continued inaction by the Obama Administration to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes are endangering the lakes.

Asian carp currently are at the threshold of Lake Michigan.  If allowed to invade the Great Lakes, they will surely continue to our inland lakes and streams and their impact will be permanent and catastrophic.

Asian carp would cause billions of dollars in lost economic activity and wipe out thousands of jobs – with Southwest Michigan the first area affected. Unfortunately, the special interests of one community, joined by inaction by federal officials, are putting at risk the future of the Great Lakes and the livelihood of everyone in the region.

Great Lakes commercial, recreational and sport fishing is a $7 billion industry, and our recreational boating industry is worth $9 billion.

In addition to ravaging a vibrant fishing industry, Asian carp would decimate tourism and boating in Southwest Michigan, costing us jobs and endangering our way of life.

I sponsored a Senate Concurrent Resolution 18 last year. Adopted in September 2011, it urged decisive congressional action to prevent a disaster.

I once again implore the federal government to close the O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Chicago Waterway System until a long-term solution is identified and enacted. The risk of inaction is too great.

By the time federal bureaucrats finish a planned study in 2015 on what to do, it may already be too late.

When it comes to this invasive fish, we do not have the luxury of time.